Trans of a Certain Age

If you have been following my three part series about my life lived mostly in the gender closet, perhaps you saw a glimpse of your life too.Β 

Connie did, and here is her comment. *Please note we share several similar experiences because of our age.

“For those of us trans women of a certain age, there was no way to know anything, other than some confused notion that being a boy for us seemed to be different than it was for the other boys. Whatever might have been drawing us toward being the other gender (there were only two back then, you know), did not seem to be enough for us to be like the girls, either. Not only was the knowledge and language yet to be formulated by the professionals, let alone society in general, our young minds had no means with which to express ourselves, either.

I must have been about three when I felt the need to express my feminine side. While my mother was busy doing something in the living room, I went into her bedroom and climbed onto the bench in front of her Art Deco vanity. The low counter top and mirror were easily accessible for even a child of my size, and, after clipping on a pair of shiny earrings and applying a not-inside-the-lines coat of lipstick, I remember admiring myself in the mirror. I was so happy with myself that I just had to share it with my mom. I can still taste the soap and feel the harshness of the washcloth on my face as she admonished me for doing something boys just are not to do.

Knowing there is something different about oneself certainly is not a choice. Being ashamed of being different could be a choice, but, like with many things in childhood, the choice is often made by adults who place it upon the child. For decades thereafter, any conscious effort I made to express my feminine-self was a choice to do the wrong thing – or so I was made to think of it. It was also a choice I made to suppress my feminine-self for many years, and another choice to finally”give in” to it again. It wasn’t until I had the revelation that my choices were all about what I was doing, and not who I was, that I found a peace within myself. I then made one more choice, that being to transition, because I really had no choice at that point.

I now turn around that question of when I knew, when asked by a cis person. Their answer is always that they always did, or that they never even had to think about it. Then I tell them that I was always who I was, as well, but I was so painfully aware and have had to think about it almost every day of my life. I’m still waiting for that day when I don’t think about my gender identity, but it’s so much easier to think about it, even dismiss it most times when I do, because I made that choice to accept myself as the woman I was born to be (and to live it, as well).”

Thanks Connie for yet another thoughtful heart-felt comment!

What’s in a Name?

Connie brought up an interesting point about responding, or not, to one’s old “dead name.” 

“Your slight digression made me want to know more. At that time, you had two names. Today, you have a different one. How, then, do you respond, should someone call you by any one of them? I imagine that you would react differently, depending on which one was used. My dead name has become almost incognizant to me after adopting my new name many years ago.

If I hear someone in a crowded place say, “Connie,” I will likely turn my head in recognition these days, but I no longer do that when my dead name is heard. Well, not until just a couple weeks ago, anyway. I was grocery shopping, and I heard a woman say, in a stern voice, “(Dead name), stop doing that!” I turned around to see a small boy holding a can of something from the bottom shelf, and Mom was standing right over him with a waving finger. It doesn’t take a psychologist to tell me why I reacted to the sound of an irritated mother shouting (Dead name), but I can only laugh now about such a thing. 

Among many other things I did, as a kid, that would irritate my mother was my natural walk; placing most of my weight on the balls of my feet, rather than using a firm step on my heels. I did learn to affect a more-masculine walk, but my mother would always let me know when I had “regressed” to my natural one. Later, as an adult, I started shaping my eyebrows as much as I thought I could get away with, and every time mother saw me, she would say the same thing she said to me regarding my walk: (Dead name), stop doing that! Hmm, maybe I have Cowboy Nightmares and Cowgirl Dreams. :-)”

Sometimes I think I more than burnt out the name situation. Like so many other cross dressers and early transgender women, I chose the name of the cis women of the period I was in whom I admired the most. For example, my earliest feminine name was Karen. Because I used to sit close to a cis girl named Karen in middle school. Back in those days, I didn’t understand why my crushes weren’t really sexual ones but more out of admiration. I wanted so bad to be them.

Over the years, I have been a Darcy, a Roxy a Cyrsti (of course) and finally a Jessie which is my legal name now. Ironically, Cyrsti’s Condo was so established by the time I chose my legal name, I decided to leave it alone. Jessie is actually a family name. 

As far as responding to my dead (male) name, I still catch myself turning around on the very rare occasions I hear it. I am more likely to fight responding when someone uses the “Sir” word when a stranger is using it with another person. Fortunately. more times than not they are directly not referring to me anyhow. 

Now on to my Mom:

My mother and I were much alike and thus never agreed on anything.  I was so focused on living a lie as a guy, I don’t think walking was ever an issue. On the other hand, I con’t imagine she never noticed my forays into her clothes and makeup. Either I covered it up better than I thought, or she ignored my cross dressing urges thinking it was a faze. 

When I came out to her when I was discharged from the Army as a transvestite, she offered to send me to electrode shock therapy. I told her she wasn’t going to plug me into a wall socket and the subject was never brought up again. 

I guess I got the final revenge because I chose her name as my middle name.

Looking back on it now, I hope she would have considered it a honor of sorts. You see, it’s all in a name.